What’s the purpose?

What’s the purpose?
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Purpose-built. Fit for purpose. Defeats the purpose. Serves a purpose. Multi-purpose.

Purpose is a part of our everyday vernacular and yet, in business, it’s hugely under-utilised.

A deceptively simple concept when applied to objects – a hammer, say, clearly has purpose – however when an organisation is challenged to define their own purpose, one might be met with blank stares, or worse, a link to the mission vision and values section of their website.

Because – and here lies the tricky part – purpose is more than words on a homepage, or a paragraph in the annual review, or a tagline, or a new logo.

Purpose, quite simply, is the reason an organisation exists.

However finding and articulating it is not so simple—purpose is not synthetic, it cannot be manufactured, made-up or post-rationalised. It is found deep in the heart and roots of an organisation – it’s always there, it is just often hidden or muddled – a result of organisational Chinese Whispers.

But when an organisation’s purpose is found and well communicated, it can be a powerful tool. It has a transformational effect and, moreover, it just feels right.

It feels right for three reasons.

Firstly, a purposeful brand is always honest. It’s certainly not news that businesses today need to be more transparent than ever, but there’s a deeper level of intimacy and insight that can be achieved when honesty is at the fore.

Secondly, it is clear. Not hidden under a mountain of jargon and sales speak, a purposeful brand strips away superfluity and distils complex information. We can understand it.

Finally, a purposeful brand is meaningful. Every organisation has a story to tell, and stories form a natural connection with the people that matter most.

Much more than just a warm and fuzzy ‘nice to have’, purpose is important to an organisation’s entire ecosystem, generating significant positive impact for everything it touches – including the bottom line. In fact, 91% of respondents from a recent Deloitte study who agreed that their company has a firm sense of purpose said their organisation had a history of strong financial performance.

And beyond profits, purpose has the ability to rally the troops around something that really matters – it means you stand for something and, more importantly, you can stand behind it with total conviction.

Melissa Bertolini (pictured with her team) is managing director of brand and communications consultancy Purpose. 

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